If you want to build the most powerful home theater PC (HTPC) on the planet, this is the system for you! This system may be sleek and compact, but it packs in plenty of impressive gear. It features a stylish design that will blend in perfectly with the rest of your AV gear, great for keeping other members of your household happy. But behind that unimposing facade lurks the power of a seriously tricked-out PC!

For August 2019, this system is seriously better than ever, thanks to massive price cuts on CPUs, memory, and solid-state drives. One thing that carries on is the heart of this system, AMD's Ryzen 7 2700 eight-core CPU. The 2700 is a multi-tasking dynamo that can punch its way through any home theater task, thanks to its ability to process 16 threads simultaneously, while staying impressively cool and sipping power. The best part is that it's dropped in price tremendously in past months, making it a fantastic value. It's backing up the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB video card, an incredible gaming powerhouse that can handle any game at 1080p, and many at 4K as well. It's also great for accelerating media encoding. And of course, it has HDMI 2.0, allowing for proper 4K/60Hz video playback. In terms of RAM, we recommend 16GB, which will provide plenty of breathing room for any high-end task, including video production, and thanks to those big price cuts we mentioned, high-speed DDR4 RAM fits in the budget.

On the storage side, we pick up a big upgrade, moving to a 1TB PCIe-based solid-state drive, which will provide breathtaking operating system and application responsiveness, along with plenty of room to store media. Also on board is a 2TB hard drive for additional media storage, plus a Blu-Ray burner for optical media access. Need more space? No problem - you can always add up to three high capacity hard drives for media storage. The PC is powered by a silent Gold-rated 450W power supply, cooled by an ultra-quiet Noctua cooler, and runs in the stylish and ultra-compact SilverStone GD05 mATX chassis. Simply put, this is a dream high-end HTPC at an affordable price! By the way, this system has plenty of expansion potential, so be sure to check out the optional components we recommend at the end of this guide!

To have a look back at previous versions of this build, check out The Archive. And for extra help getting up to speed on what it's like working with AMD's Ryzen platform, definitely check out our hands-on Ryzen Assembly Guide.

The $1,250 High-End Home Theater PC - August 2019


    AMD Ryzen 7 2700

    PRICE DROP! For a high-end HTPC, you want extreme processing power, and there's no better chip on the market to give you that than AMD's Ryzen 7 2700. With eight cores and sixteen threads that boost to 3.4GHz in multi-threaded tasks and even faster in lightly-threaded tasks, it can cut through the toughest of home theater tasks. All that and it's still incredibly efficient, pulling under 65W. 

    The Guru's Tip:

    This CPU includes a good cooler, but it's actually too tall for this system. We suggest a shorter and much quieter one later in this guide.


    Gigabyte B450 AORUS M

    This board provides tons of functionality at a great price. It has eight USB ports, the ideal expansion slot layout for an mATX board (i.e., you can use them all!), plus an M.2 SSD slot.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Keep in mind that while this board has video ports, they are not functional in a system using a Ryzen 7 CPU. This system instead features a high-powered graphics card for video output, listed below.

    Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti SC Ultra Gaming

    HTPC enthusiasts looking for the holy grail of 4K output, nearly-silent operation, and serious gaming performance need look no further than the GTX 1660 Ti. It will run cool and quiet, while easily driving any gaming title to a 1080p resolution at maximum settings, while pushing older titles to 4K. Speaking of 4K, this card's HDMI 2.0b port will output 4:4:4/60Hz/4K video perfectly!

    The Guru's Tip:

    You really have to be careful about the selection of video cards in this build, as the case we recommend has very little headroom for taller-than-reference models due to an included crossbar. That's why we're suggesting this compact model, which is among the smallest 1660 Ti cards on the market. With that said, if you know you'll never game on your HTPC, you can get the same HTPC features from the more affordable and similarly-sized Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1650 4GB.


    Ballistix 2x8GB Sport LT DDR4-3000 CL16

    This kit will allow your Ryzen processor to achieve maximum performance, thanks to its high speed DDR4-3200 rating. And being a single-rank design, rather than dual-rank like most RAM sticks, it offers better compatibility with the Ryzen platform, meaning you can add two additional sticks down the line without issues.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To get this to run at its rated speed, enable the AMP profile in the motherboard's UEFI interface. Note that 3000MHz translates to 2933MHz on the Ryzen platform - this isn't a bug!

    Solid-State Drive:

    Intel SSD 660p 1TB PCIe

    This 1TB SSD hits the sweet spot in terms of price, capacity, and performance. Accelerated by the next-gen PCIe interface, it offers tremendous performance, yet comes in at a lower price than much slower drives. And since it uses the M.2 form factor, it slots right into the motherboard, requiring no cables or brackets. It's the perfect match for a compact, high-performance system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Just note that you'll need a jeweler's type screwdriver to secure this drive to the motherboard.

    Hard Drive:

    Western Digital Blue 2TB

    For bulk media storage, we recommend you start off with WD's Blue 2TB drive. Quiet, affordable, and very reliable, it's the perfect hard drive for a home theater build.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Need more space? Just jump up to WD's 4TB drive, which offers even better value! This system can actually hold three 3.5" hard drives, meaning your total storage capacity is nearly limitless, with NAS-focused models now available in sizes up to 14TB!

    Case (Optional):

    Silverstone GD05

    This case is truly one-of-a-kind. It's the smallest full-height mATX model on the market, allowing you to use powerful video cards or other expansion cards, plus up to three 3.5" hard drives and an optical drive. For cooling, it includes three pre-installed 120mm low-noise fans. And to add a touch of class, it has an aluminum front panel.

    The Guru's Tip:

    At just under 22 liters, the GD06 is a true small form factor case. We decided to move on from the ATX-class SilverStone GD09 that we had long-recommended for this build for two reasons: (1) its optical drive bracket caused serious clearance problems for CPU coolers on Ryzen-based systems, and (2) its larger size wasn't advantageous given that most modern ATX motherboards have far fewer than the maximum 7 slots.

    Power Supply:

    Seasonic SSR-450FM

    Measuring just 140mm deep, this ultra-compact, semi-modular power supply will easily fit in the case we recommend, while providing virtually silent operation thanks to its zero-RPM fan mode and excellent Gold-rated efficiency.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This is the least expensive Gold-rated 450W unit on the market, but is also the best!

    Optical Drive:

    LG 14x Blu-Ray Burner

    If you want access to both DVD and Blu-Ray physical media, you can't go wrong adding this well-priced Blu-Ray burner from LG.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To watch Blu-Ray movies, you'll actually need dedicated playback software. We recommend Cyberlink's PowerDVD 19 Ultra.

    CPU Cooler:

    Noctua NH-L12S

    While the CPU recommended in this guide comes with a cooler, it isn't particularly quiet. So we recommend you go with the unrivaled NH-L12S, which is extraordinarily quiet, while providing ample cooling capacity. Learn more about this awesome cooler in our hands-on review

    The Guru's Tip:

    At 70mm tall, it's the absolute largest CPU cooler you can fit in this system.

    Wireless Card:

    TP-LINK Archer T6E AC1300

    Add blazing-fast dual-stream 802.11ac wireless networking to your HTPC with this fantastic add-in card.

    The Guru's Tip:

    If your home network suffers from insufficient range or dropouts, consider upgrading your router to a mesh system, like the excellent TP-Link Deco M5.

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    Win 10 is a great OS that keeps getting better, as Microsoft releases a major update every Fall and Spring to add features and security.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This USB 3.0 version of W10 will install in under 5 minutes!

Optional Components

    The Deluxe Home Theater Keyboard:

    Corsair K83 Wireless Keyboard

    If you'll be using your PC from the couch, you definitely need to invest in a wireless input device, and there's no better option than Corsair's new K83 keyboard with integrated trackpad and joystick! Crafted from aluminum and featuring white backlighting, it looks as great as it works.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Amazingly enough, the joystick on this keyboard allows it to control just about any Smart TV on the market, making it a two-in-one device perfect for calling up the latest streaming titles!

    Sound Card (Optional):

    Creative Sound Blaster Zx (Opt.)

    If you're serious about audio production and playback, you'll want an add-in soudn card. The Zx from Sound Blaster features a 116db signal-to-noise ratio, along with an Audio Control Module (ACM) that incorporates a built-in microphone array and mic/headphone I/O connections, plus a control know to adjust the headphone levels.

    The Guru's Tip:

    You also get digital audio connections on this card (both input and output!).

    TV Tuner (Optional):

    Hauppauge WinTV-quadHD PCI Express TV Tuner Card 1609 (Opt.)

    Watch and capture live TV with this high-powered 1080p TV tuner card.

    The Guru's Tip:

    When equipped with a video card and wireless networking card, this system will have one free slot, which you can use for either the sound card or this video capture card.